Unit Plan: Field Study –
The Case of the Disappearing Log

Science / Grade 6

Big Ideas

Multi-cellular organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce, and interact with their environment (Science 6).


  • Systems
  • Organism
  • Interdependence
  • Survival
  • Adaptation
  • Reproduction
  • Interactions
  • Environment
  • Stewardship
Essential Questions

Students will keep considering…

  • What is a living organism?
  • What do all organisms need for survival?
  • What adaptations help the organism survive in its environment?
  • What interactions do you observe –between organisms, and between the organism and environment?
  • How am I connected to the organism(s) I’ve experienced during field studies?
  • What does it mean to be a steward of the environment?
  • What is a system?
  • What does it mean to think using a systems approach?
  • How have I experienced ‘Systems’ at ODS? (e.g. in what ways is a disappearing log a living system?)
  • How am I connected to ‘Systems’ in my everyday life?
Evaluative Criteria


Monitoring Progress

Teacher will monitor progress:
Teachers can monitor progress through ongoing formative assessment including but not limited to:

  • N/A

How will teachers and their students reflect on and evaluate the completed project?

Teacher Reflection

  • What aspects of the study went well?
  • What did students struggle with?
  • What did you struggle with?
  • What would you add/revise the next time you taught this field study?
  • Were there any unintended outcomes?
  • Were students engaged?

Unit Overview






The Case of the Disappearing Log 


Unit Overview

In this field study, students will assume the role of detectives faced with a nature mystery in the coastal temperate rainforest. First, they explore a decomposing log and look for evidence of how the log is changing. They make possible explanations for what might be causing the log to disappear. Students then learn about common “suspects” – organisms that decompose wood, – how these organisms rely on internal systems to survive, reproduce & interact in the environment, and the signature evidence they each leave behind. In teams, students use a Disappearing Log Key to identify which organisms might have left behind evidence, and use this information to make explanations about what has happened to the log since it was a tree. Finally, using a systems approach, students learn that the log isn’t really disappearing, it’s turning into gases that are part of the cycling of matter in all ecosystems (Reference: BEETLES).





Unit Duration

2 hours


Related Big Ideas


The following resources are made available through the British Columbia Ministry of Education. For more information, please visit BC’s New Curriculum.

Big Ideas

The Big Ideas consist of generalizations and principles and the key concepts important in an area of learning. The Big Ideas represent what students will understand at the completion of the curriculum for their grade. They are intended to endure beyond a single grade and contribute to future understanding.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Core Competencies

orangecommunicationCommunications Competency

The set of abilities that students use to impart and exchange information, experiences and ideas, to explore the world around them, and to understand and effectively engage in the use of digital media

bluethinkingThinking Competency

The knowledge, skills and processes we associate with intellectual development

greensocialSocial Competency

The set of abilities that relate to students’ identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Curricular Competencies & Content

Curricular Competencies are the skills, strategies, and processes that students develop over time. They reflect the “Do” in the Know-Do-Understand model of curriculum. The Curricular Competencies are built on the thinking, communicating, and personal and social competencies relevant to disciplines that make up an area of learning.

Visit the Ministry of Education for more information

Additional Resources

First People's Principles of Learning

To read more about First People’s Principles of Learning, please click here.

For classroom resources, please visit the First Nations Education Steering Committee.